Young scores first PASS victory

His ascent up the Pennsylvania Sprint Series ranks took Dustin Young to his career first IMCA RaceSaver feature win Saturday at Selinsgrove Speedway. (Photo by Frank Buhrman)

By Frank Buhrman

SELINSGROVE, Pa. (June 8, 2024) – Just over four years ago, Dustin Young, with no prior climbing experience, strapped on his hiking boots and set off to scale a mountain.

He celebrated on the peak Saturday night.

The mountain in this case was the River Valley Builders Pennsylvania Sprint Car Series, the boots were a driving uniform, and the mountain was the sweeping half-mile Selinsgrove Speedway.

Standing “up top” on the wing of his number 24 Sprint Car in victory lane, Young waved the checkered and screamed out in victory at the end of Saturday’s 20-lap IMCA RaceSaver feature, which he had led from start to finish.

Mountain climbers everywhere would have understood.

The Danville resident began his racing career – no prior experience at all – at Selinsgrove little more than a week beyond exactly four years ago, and he failed to qualify for his first event.

But improvement came quickly and he was the 2020 PASS Rookie of the Year. Since then, he has become a regular contender, earning a runner-up finish (after losing the lead in traffic to Garrett Bard with four laps to go) at Port Royal two years ago, and battling in the lead pack at Selinsgrove last weekend before being sidelined by mechanical ills.

This time everything clicked.

Young finished second to Nick Sweigart in his heat race, then drew the pole position for the feature. He jumped out in front of fellow front-row starter Josh Spicer, with Sweigart taking his customary high line to advance from sixth starting position into third.

With the post-heats redraw having consigned some front-runners back in the field, there was plenty of passing there, with Zach Rhodes advancing from 10th starting to fourth in four laps. Young, meanwhile, was building a big lead over Spicer and Sweigart, prior to hitting lapped traffic just before the halfway point.

Young sliced through the traffic at first, but then Spicer and Sweigart began to narrow his lead. With five laps to go, everything changed as rookie Kolby Weaver, who had scored his first win in his heat race, got into the fourth-turn wall while Tim Iulg, battling in the top 10, stopped on the backstretch, and Eric Knopp had problems exiting the track at the pit entrance.

That set the stage for a no-traffic shootout, with Young’s restart the key, and he couldn’t have done it better. Capitalizing on a good jump, the winner pulled away from the field and was nearly four seconds in front by the checkered flag.

Spicer held off Sweigart for second, with Rhodes barely edging 2023 PASS champion Logan Spahr of Lewisberry for fourth; their battle for position was almost enough to take fans’ eyes off the leaders.

The race continued a two-week stretch of repeated Selinsgrove appearance for the River Valley Builders PASS tour, and the final race in that run will take place Thursday, June 13 when the sprinters run in support of the super late models, which will take to the track as part of Appalachian Mountain Super Late Model Speedweek. The tour then will continue to Hagerstown Speedway Saturday for a Fathers’ Day Weekend show.

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